Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28)
Expanded Passage: Mark 12:28–31
According to a medieval rabbinic tradition—not unanimously accepted by all scholars—the law of Moses includes 613 commandments related to the dos and don’ts of human life in its relationship with God, its neighbors, and itself. The 365 positive commandments, paralleling the number of solar days, drive us to perform honorable deeds one day at a time over the whole year. The other 248 negative commandments, numerically equivalent to the total of organs, limbs, or parts in the human body, urge us to prohibit our whole being from wrongdoing.
Observing hundreds of these commandments has proven to be old-fashioned even to Jews. Some civil and ceremonial laws in the Hebrew Bible applied to the Jewish people and the Jerusalem temples. Some of these precepts are currently irrelevant to Christians, who profess that their Savior, Jesus Christ, has set them free from practicing them. However, God’s moral commandments in the Christian Old Testament constitute the nuts and bolts of Christian morality, accountability, and attitude.
What a burden it would be to remember all these commandments! Graciously, Jesus summarized them all into two when the teacher of the law questioned him about the most important commandment (v. 28). Our Savior set the law of love as the most basic of all commandments. We are to experience the divine, social, and personal dimensions of love (v. 29–31) in our relationships.
Let us practice the law of love in all its dimensions.
Handy Calixte is the national director of Christian education for L’Église Wesleyenne d’Haïti. He is pursuing a master of divinity at Wesley Seminary and studying biblical Hebrew at Israel Institute of Biblical Studies.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.